I'm hoping I can do a public service today, even if it's also a bit self-serving.
I was recently trying to fill a spot on one of my teams at Country Lanes in Ishpeming, and had to ask around about possible bowlers for this particular league, the Sunday Tri-City Mixed.
While I've finally found that bowler, in talking to people I found out a number of teams this season across many leagues are hurting. Some have had to bowl short-handed, which is the worst-case scenario both competitively and financially.
Others are pressing substitutes into regular spots with varying success, or rotating people, or even covering for each other where one person picks up an extra night in one league in exchange for another guy doing the same in another league.
Most of these are short-term answers, however, and getting a new bowler would be the preferable solution.
Here's where I hope to come in with my message: We need you!
It doesn't matter if you're a casual bowler who thinks it might be fun to try the game on a regular or semi-regular basis, or a former league bowler who's gotten away from the game either because of past health issues or a team that broke up, or whatever.
Don't worry if you don't think you're very good - that's what handicap is for.
In my first days of bowling in adult leagues in the mid-1980s, most leagues had 75 or 80 percent handicap, meaning you received (or gave away) three-quarters or four-fifths of the difference in averages.
Sounds like a good deal, eh? Not if you see two teams, say, 200 pins apart in average. It happens fairly often. Of the 200-pin difference with 75 percent handicap, the lower-average team only gets 150 pins. So the "lesser" team has to be an extra 50 pins better compared to their averages just to pull even.
Nowadays, the vast majority of handicaps are at 90 percent, with some, like my Sunday night league, actually going to 100 percent.
That 200-pin difference now equates to a much more manageable 20-pin deficit, or on my weekend league, no deficit at all.
In fact, new or returning bowlers can be a real boon to a team, because often they start out with rather low averages and consistently shoot over averages as they bowl regularly.
Between Country Lanes and Superior Lanes in Marquette, there's a league every night except Saturday, so if you by yourself or you with one or more other friends or family have an interest, call one of these centers.
This is a perfect time to join with the second half with most leagues getting ready to start right after the Christmas holidays.
Call Country at 486-8000 or Superior at 225-9230 and they'll get you set up.
I've got two weeks worth of Mining Journal Bowlers of the Week to honor.
The No. 1 performance in this time was turned in last week by Jade McLachlan in the Tuesday Night Mixed League at Superior Lanes, 217 pins over his 178 average with a 751 series, including a high game of 278.
That's been the hot league lately, since a week earlier in that league, John Marquess rolled 191 pins over his 167 mean with a 692 set, including a 256 game.
One honorable mention goes to Gordy Conradson in the Monday Industrial Northern Electric Automotive League at Country Lanes. He was 145 over his 197 mean last week, shooting 736 with a 267-266 finish.
Two weeks ago on the night before Thanksgiving, Mark Ingalls shot 133 over his 174 average with 655, including a high game of 234, in the Wednesday Industrial at Superior.
I'm taking full credit for this one, since Mark is a teammate of mine and he was supposed to be off that night until I asked him to bowl for me since I was heading downstate for the holiday. Way to go, Mark!
For the ladies, Lisa LaCombe had the high-water mark of plus-85 in the Wednesday Industrial last week, shooting 592 on games of 212, 187 and 193 with her 169 average.
A week earlier, Katie Salminen was 78 over her 158 average in the Friday 800 Mixed at Superior with 552 with each game between 172 and 192.
In addition, during the past month, there's been near-perfect 299 games posted by Bob Holm in the Wednesday Trio at Country and by Justin Stephens in the Friday 800 Mixed at Superior.
And don't forget this Saturday when Superior Lanes hosts an Upper Peninsula High School Bowling Conference meet starting at 11 a.m.
Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246.